In her article entitled Senators can't agree on municipal broadband rules, my colleague Anne Broache "broaches" the subject of municipal broadband hearings in the U.S. Senate.
She correctly describes the resistance of big broadband service providers to the idea, and the sentiment expressed by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada) for their position.
"I drafted legislation that obviously sides more with the private sector," Sen. Ensign said. "That's my bent...whenever possible I don't like to see local governments competing with the private sector."
But that's not Senator Ensign's pix up there, people. That face belongs to Rep. Pete Sessions, (R-Texas).
Last summer, Rep. Sessions drafted legislation that would go a lot farther than what Senator Ensign proposed last summer.
Want to get really pissed? Here's the text of what Rep. Sessions proposes in his (cough) bill he entitles "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005:"
SEC. 2. PROHIBITION ON MUNICIPAL SERVICES.
(a) Amendment- Section 253 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 253) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
(g) Provision of Services by State and Local Governments and Their Affiliates-
(1) PROHIBITION- Effective 60 days after the date of enactment of the Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005, neither any State or local government, nor any entity affiliated with such a government, shall provide any telecommunications, telecommunications service, information service, or cable service in any geographic area within the jurisdiction of such government in which a corporation or other private entity that is not affiliated with any State or local government is offering a substantially similar service.
(2) GRANDFATHER PROVISION- Paragraph (1) shall not prohibit a State or local government or affiliated entity thereof from providing in any geographic area within the jurisdiction of such government any service that such government or entity was providing on the date of enactment of the Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005.'.
(b) Conforming Amendment- Subsection (f) of section 621 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 541(f)) is repealed.
Yes, I know it is 2006, but this bill is very much alive and on the table.
Funny how some politicians talk about the virtues of "open markets," and "public-private partnerships," - except when those open markets and partnerships threaten the bottom line of companies and industries these pols seem to be partial to.
Some are partial to these companies and industries because of their authentic belief systems. While there's absolutely no evidence that Rep. Sessions favoring of big telecom is informed by anything but his honest belief in the private sector, it is interesting to note one of his major contributors in the last (2004) completed Congressional campaign and election cycle.
Take a look, courtesy of OpenSecrets.org:
Hmm, that's also the same SBC (now AT&T) that has been making the loudest noises against net neutrality.
And of all 435 Members of the House of Representatives, Rep.Sessions apparently is SBC-AT&T's favorite in the current, 2006 campaign cycle:
No, I am not playing partisan politics here. There are Congresspeople and Senators from both parties on this list. Interesting though about SBC/AT&Ts concentration on Rep. Sessions and Sen. Ensign.